The final campaign finance reports have been submitted and the Charter School Industry raised and spent $24,476,132 in its losing effort to raise the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in Massachusetts.
According to the Ballotopia website,
Question 2 would have authorized the approval of up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools per year.
|Organizations in support of Question #2 in Massachusetts||Total Raised|
|Yes on Two||$710,100|
|Campaign for Fair Access to Quality Public Schools||$2,418,570|
|Great Schools Massachusetts||$21,198,748|
|Advancing Obama’s Legacy on Charter Schools Ballot Committee||$722,040|
|Expanding Educational Opportunities||$575,002|
An incredible 95 percent of the money that flowed into the Massachusetts charter school campaign came from out-of-state donors, with 84 percent of the total funds coming from New York based Families for Excellent Schools, a dark money charter school group that advocates in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
According to the official reports filed with the commonwealth of Massachusetts, a total of five political action committees engaged in the effort to fund the ballot proposition aimed at lifting the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in Massachusetts. Together they reported raising a total of that $25,624,360, but that count reflects money funneled from one committee to another. The actual amount raised was closer 24.5 million.
In addition to Families for Excellent schools, the list of corporate education reform donors included more than $1.8 million from Jim and Alice Walton of the Walmart fortune, $490,000 from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and $250,000 from former Enron executive John Arnold. Education Reform Now and a variety of other groups that refuse to release the names of their donors also contributed to the Massachusetts pro-charter school effort.
|Major contributors to Question #2||Amount Donated|
|Families for Excellent Schools, (Advocacy) Inc.||$20,803,679|
|Strong Economy for Growth, Inc.||$1,060,000|
|Great Schools Massachusetts||$501,000|
|Education Reform Now (Advocacy)||$469,317|
|John Douglas Arnold||$250,000|
|Massachusetts Charter Public Schools Voter Education Fund||$150,000|
|Massachusetts Charter Public School Association||$100,000|
|Cohasset VC LTD (TX)||$100,000|
|The Kraft Group||$100,000|
|State Street Bank and Trust Co.||$100,000|
|Suffolk Cares, Inc.||$100,000|
|MassMutual Financial Group||$50,000|
Corporations donating to the anti-public education campaign included Partners Healthcare, The Kraft Group, State Street Bank and Trust, Co., Suffolk Cares and the MassMutual Financial Group.
The unprecedented effort to undermine public education in Massachusetts will go down as a stunning defeat for the charter school industry and the role of “dark” money in referendum politics.
The question was defeated with 62% voting against the measure and 38% voting in favor of lifting the cap and allowing more charter schools in Massachusetts.
Opponents of the measure included the Massachusetts Teachers Association, United States Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and many local mayors, boards of education and teacher unions.
Proponents included the biggest corporate entities and individuals behind the corporate education reform movement including Families for Excellent Schools, Education Reform Now, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Walton Family and a who’s who list of donors from the charter school industry.
The official ballot summary from the State of Massachusetts read:
This proposed law would allow the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools each year.
Approvals under this law could expand statewide charter school enrollment by up to 1% of the total statewide public school enrollment each year. New charters and enrollment expansions approved under this law would be exempt from existing limits on the number of charter schools, the number of students enrolled in them, and the amount of local school districts’ spending allocated to them.
If the Board received more than 12 applications in a single year from qualified applicants, then the proposed law would require it to give priority to proposed charter schools or enrollment expansions in districts where student performance on statewide assessments is in the bottom 25% of all districts in the previous two years and where demonstrated parent demand for additional public school options is greatest.
New charter schools and enrollment expansions approved under this proposed law would be subject to the same approval standards as other charter schools, and to recruitment, retention, and multilingual outreach requirements that currently apply to some charter schools. Schools authorized under this law would be subject to annual performance reviews according to standards established by the Board.
Opponents of Question #2 organized through a political action committee called Save our Public Schools which was made up of parents, teachers and unions, with most of the money coming from teacher unions. Save our Public Schools ended up raising just over $15 million ($15,406,897) in opposition to lifting the cap on charter schools.